Friday, January 2, 1998

A Leather Review of 1997 . . . and a Preview of ’98

(Published in Lavender Magazine, Issue #68, January 2, 1998)

Goodbye, 1997. For the Twin Cities leather community it has certainly been an interesting year that has provided me with more than enough material to fill this column each issue.

CLUBS: Several Twin Cities leather clubs celebrated milestone events. The Black Guard held their twentieth Black Frost run in February, and the Knights of Leather held their ninth Knights Tournament May 30-June 1. The grand-Daddy of them all, however, was the Atons twenty-fifth-anniversary run in September. 1997 saw the formation of new clubs in the area. Sober Leather made its debut in the Pride Parade and later at a “Welcome to the Community” party in September. You’ll hear more about another new club, Unleashed, in early 1998.

CONTESTS AND TITLEHOLDERS: 1997 gave Minnesota new visibility in the national and international leather scene. Minnesota sent a record three contestants to the International Mr. Leather Contest in Chicago over Memorial Day weekend (Kevin Cwayna, Thomas Smith, and Colin Spriestersbach), as well as sending Twin Cities-based band Savage Aural Hotbed as contest entertainment. Cwayna went on to win the contest and bring home Minnesota’s first-ever international leather title.

In April, Michael deLeon became Mr. Minnesota Fantasy 1997, and he went on to win First Runner-Up at the International Mr. Fantasy contest in Omaha in August. Philip Oakes, the 1997 Mr. Minnesota Fantasy Runner-Up, has lately been making a splash as a very popular erotic-video star.

In July, Jack Maynard became Mr. Minnesota Drummer 1997 and Stephen Zeller became Mr. Minnesota Drummerboy 1997.

Roger Gregg won the title of Mr. Minnesota Leather 1998 in October. He will be competing this coming Memorial Day weekend in Chicago at the twentieth-anniversary International Mr. Leather contest.

While Minnesota sent three contestants to the International Mr. Leather contest, it went unrepresented at this year’s International Ms. Leather contest. Ms. Minnesota Leather 1997 Amazon resigned the title for personal reasons (now it can be told—Amazon has become Nick). The title passed to Aalan Cameron, who for health reasons was unable to compete at the International.

NIGHTLIFE: 1997 saw a proliferation of leather nights at local bars: Hard Monday at The Saloon; Wednesday at The Town House; Thursday at Club Metro Underground; and The Tank on Sundays at The Saloon. which seems to have been the most consistently popular. These establishments and Tropix have also served as new venues for contests, fundraisers, and other community events. Old standby The Men’s Room at the Gay 90’s revamped its entry this year, which now is through the (actual) men’s room. In the Duluth/Superior area, the Main Club’s famous “garage” was no more; the old Main Club burned to the ground at the end of 1996. Owner Bob Jansen was able to open a new Main Club in June of this year, with a grand opening in July.

CELEBRITY VISITS: Besides having International Mr. Leather as our very own home-town international titleholder,  the Twin Cities has become a destination for other international titleholders and leather luminaries. This year has seen visits by International Mr. Fantasy Kevin Watson, International Mr. Drummer Kyle Brandon, and International Ms. Leather Genelle Moore. The Tank featured ubiquitous porn star Donnie Russo at its grand opening in March and brought in “domestic goddess” Judy Tenuta for a performance during Pride Weekend. The Town House again hosted male erotic superstar Steve Kelso in October. The Gay 90’s presented a  show by the Tom of Finland Foundation in November.

PASSINGS: Milo Smith (April 13) and Peter Semotink (December 4).

So that’s some of what happened in 1997. Here’s a look ahead at what’s in store for us in the first part of 1998:

Jan. 23-24, 1998: Mr. and Ms. Olympus Leather Contest at the Metro Underground. Call for contestant, hotel and ticket information. Produced by Back in Black Leather Productions. (Winners represent Minnesota in the Mr./Ms. Olympus Leather Contest in New Orleans at Pantheon of Leather February 13-16, 1998.)

February 13-15, 1998: The Black Guard present Black Frost ’98, their 21st annual run, at the Midway Days Inn. All run registrations and requests for information are being handled by phone through The Travel Company. (Ask for the "Black Frost Desk.") VISA and MasterCard accepted! Those dates are coming up fast, so pick up the phone and register now, and encourage your far-flung friends to do likewise—airfare discounts are 5% until January 10. Rates for the run package itself go up after February 1.

March or April:  W.I.L.L.O.W. Productions Inc. is accepting applications for the 1998 Ms. Minnesota Leather Competition (planned for this spring.) Contact W.I.L.L.O.W. Productions Inc., Brooklyn Center MN. (W.I.L.L.O.W. Productions Inc. is the Official Representative for the 1998 Ms. Minnesota Leather Competition.)

May 29-31, 1998: The Knights of Leather present Knights Tournament 10. Bring a new participant and receive a 10% discount on your application fee. Or get early sign-up prices if you register before March 23, 1998. For more information or an application form call or write Knights of Leather, Minneapolis, MN.

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